Obama campaign sues third party vendor. Should political campaigns be able to copyright?

Not sure how many of my readers are particularly interested in copyright law as it pertains to political campaigns, but I found this article from the First Amendment Center interesting:

A federal judge in Washington issued a preliminary injunction barring Washington-based from selling merchandise with the “O” logo. But the judge reserved judgment on whether the website should also be barred from selling merchandise with a logo that uses the distinctive “O” as part of the year 2012.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said lawyers for the campaign had shown the campaign owns the trademark on the so-called “rising sun” logo, a blue “O” with red and white stripes at the bottom. The campaign has also applied for a trademark on the 2012 logo, but it has not been granted. Sullivan ordered both sides to provide more information.

This strikes me as odd for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is, as the article notes, that other Democratic campaigns have used the same company without incident. But the second reason is: why should a political campaign even be allowed to copyright its goods? Why should a group whose sole purpose is to elect a President of the United States even be allowed to have discrete intellectual property?

Imagine, for example, a White House that decided to file for intellectual property rights for some of the policies the Administration put into place? If the White House and the halls of Congress are (at least ceremonially) the property of our democracy, then surely so are our democratic processes and the tools that go into it?

Commie that I am, I’m not that big of a fan of intellectual property, of course. I’ve made that point clear enough. And commie that I am, I’m very-much in favour of publicly-funded elections. So, maybe this is just the confluence of those two beliefs. But why would an election campaign for office not for sale need intellectual property to sell? Does that not seem contradictory?

Rochester Technology

Kodak says they have 20 interested patent buyers. Well, sorta.

While Brighton Securities and others seem less than thrilled with Kodak’s patent sale prospects, Kodak themselves have released a statement declaring that in fact 20 companies have signed confidentiality agreements to look into patent purchases:

Kodak Files Motion for Competitive Auction of Digital Imaging Patents

Over the past 12 months, Kodak’s financial advisor, Lazard, has conducted an extensive marketing process for these assets. To date, 20 parties have signed confidentiality agreements and have been provided access to an electronic data room.

This is a bit of parsing. Just because a company signs a confidentiality agreement with Kodak does not in any way imply that they’re actually going to buy anything. The confidentiality agreement just protects both parties’ company secrets so that the bidding company can feel free to have a look around.

The company is currently looking for approval of a confidential bidding system. Is this for the sake of potential buyers, or to save face when nobody bids?


More SOPA to come? Google to publicly document content delisted for copyright infringement

Is this transparency, or is the pressure in Washington heating to a boil?

The Official Google Blog today announces that – as they phrase it – their commitment to transparency, they will now be publishing all content that has been removed from their search results as a result of a copyright infringement challenge. They further report that they get an average of 250,000 such requests per week:

We’re starting with search because we remove more results in response to copyright removal notices than for any other reason. So we’re providing information about who sends us copyright removal notices, how often, on behalf of which copyright owners and for which websites. As policymakers and Internet users around the world consider the pros and cons of different proposals to address the problem of online copyright infringement, we hope this data will contribute to the discussion.

“Proposals” include PIPA, SOPA and a suite of other draconian policies laid out by greedy entertainment industry lawyers and their toadies in the various halls of power around the globe. A website that centralizes all data on just how abusive one company or another might be in pursuing copyright “infringement” cases would be illuminating indeed. Significantly, Google says they plan on starting their data dumps with July 2011 data, just a few months prior to the introduction of SOPA in the US House of Representatives.

But then, what Google accepts and does not accept as copyright infringement is itself subject to scrutiny. Do they really publish everything, or do they vet the released data? Time will tell.

Rochester Technology

Kodak says it will appeal ruling on Apple/RIM patents

In the sunniest terms possible, Kodak claims a partial victory in the Apple and RIM patent suit they had originally hoped would yield a billion-dollar payout.

The presser points out that, while the current ruling claims that Apple and RIM did violate the patent but that the patent is invalid, one previous ruling was exactly the opposite. They plan to appeal. What’s the chances that they go double-zippo in the next one?